How can make better use of my living room?

msbrandywinevalleyMarch 1, 2014

My home started out as a fairly traditional 2-story colonial -- small front hallway, dining room on one side, living room on the other, kitchen in back of the dining room. Over the years we've added on a family room, knocked down walls and re-purposed our living spaces (the dining room is now a "gathering room" adjacent to the kitchen; the original den is now the dining area), but our living room remains as it was, visually separated from our other living spaces, and virtually unused.

It LOOKS like a living room because of how it's furnished, but it's certainly not used in that way. I should mention that the living room is separated from the dining area by a 5-foot wide opening that has French doors which can be kept open if we so choose. We can even remove those doors if it makes sense to do so.

Without any further renovating, how can I make better use of my living room, which accounts for about 20% of my living space on the first floor? Do I repurpose it? Do I figure out a way to draw people in? Do I do something else? TIA for your suggestions.

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camlan

I'd start by looking at the whole house and how you use each room. Then I'd look at what you want to do in your house and how easy/difficult it is to do each activity.

It sounds to me as though you have done a lot of work to make the house work for you--you now have a combined gathering space and kitchen, you've made the den into a dining room.

What else do you need?

If you have small children, the living room could become a playroom. Or homework room. Or hangout for teenagers--their own space, but close enough to kitchen and other places the adults are for some supervision.

Do you need a quiet, grown-up space away from the kids? This room could become your own personal retreat from the rest of the family. You could set it up so that you can invite friends over for a cup of tea there, or a game night.

The living room could also become a library, if you have a lot of books. Add in bookshelves, a desk and comfy reading chairs.

Or it could become rehearsal space for your rock band.

Or a hobby and craft space, if you like to quilt or sew or paint or whatever.

Or take all the furniture out and make it a yoga studio.

Don't think of it as a living room. Think of it as a space where you can do whatever you want to do.

This post was edited by camlan on Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 9:04

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:03AM
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daisyinga

What Camlan said.

If I were in your situation, it would be a reading room. Shelves full of books and pictures, two (only two) comfortable chairs, great lamps, an ottoman and a table for a place to put my drink. Some floor stand candle holders so that sometimes I could just go in there, light the candles and be in peace. Maybe a charging station for my kindle. If I had some room left over, I'd put a game table and chairs in there.

A few years ago I would have made it into a game room. Foosball table, pool table or air hockey table. Some barstools with backs on them for people to watch the game.

Or you could make it into whatever special, indulgent style you like. Like a frilly pink room with blush walls, cream furniture, curtains with cabbage roses, coffee table with a china tea set on it.

If my husband was a hunter who liked stuffed deer heads, I'd paint the walls green and hang all his taxidermy in there and put some comfy big chairs in there.

What a great situation you have! Have fun with it.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:57PM
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msbrandywinevalley

Thanks camlan and daisyinga! I'm liking the idea of making it into a reading room/library/office. A couple of comfy leather chairs, a couple of ottomans, a throw blanket for chilly days, a writing table... it's starting to come together for me. And what I especially like about this idea is that I can take the upholstered furniture from that room, which is practically unused, and use it in my family room. I'll need help with "decorator touches" but I'm beginning to get a vision of what's possible. Thanks, again!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 12:37PM
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msbrandywinevalley

Thanks camlan and daisyinga! I'm liking the idea of making it into a reading room/library/office. A couple of comfy leather chairs, a couple of ottomans, a throw blanket for chilly days, a writing table... it's starting to come together for me. And what I especially like about this idea is that I can take the upholstered furniture from that room, which is practically unused, and use it in my family room. I'll need help with "decorator touches" but I'm beginning to get a vision of what's possible. Thanks, again!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 10:38AM
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gellchom

I think a lot depends upon the layout of the house. If the living room is right near the entry, I probably wouldn't want it to be a craft room or gym or something. But a library -- well, that's a living room with bookshelves and maybe a desk, right? Perfect.

Depending upon how you entertain and how big and how formal your den that became dining area is, and especially if it's your casual dining area, my first instinct would be to make the living room a dining room.

We repurposed most of the first floor of the house we are in now. An exercise room (which had formerly been a bedroom and office, and before that the original kitchen and dining room) became a library. The living room became a formal dining room, and a little office became a little sort of parlor-sized living room. (There was already a very big family room.) We realized that we did use our old living room, but rarely more than the middle of it. We haven't missed a big one. But it is nice to have a space that's always clean and ready to talk quietly with company; it doesn't need to be big.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 5:04PM
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